Friday, April 18, 2014

Tanks for Nothing

Was watching a lot of the EPTLive coverage today from Sanremo as the Main Event played down to just 16 players. Lot of big names in there, including Victoria Coren Mitchell who is short-stacked but the only one left with a chance to break the decade-long streak of no double-EPT winners ever.

The EPTLive shows are terrific in my estimation, with James Hartigan and Joe Stapleton always entertaining. I like hearing Marc Convey and the PokerStars bloggers on there, too, as well as the players they recruit to come do commentary. Very easy to get locked in when watching and not want to turn away, especially as the tourneys wind down toward the latter stages.

There was one small hand early in the day on the TV table this afternoon involving Dinesh Alt (who eventually went out in 25th place) and Raul Mestre (who survived and is second in chips overnight). Not at all a remarkable hand, but on the turn Alt tanked for nearly two minutes before folding, during which time Hartigan and Stapleton eventually had to fill the space by talking about the length of time he was taking to act -- not just on that hand, but generally.

A little later I clicked over to the High Roller updates on PokerNews and noticed a hand reported involving Davidi Kitai and Jonathan Duhamel in which Kitai apparently spent more than 10 minutes making a river decision before folding and showing he’d had a strong hand with trip aces on a board with no flush and only one unlikely-looking straight possible. The pre-river action wasn’t described and it looked like a legitimately difficult decision, but that’s still a lot of time.

There’s much talk these days about tanking and players taking inordinate time to make decisions, with that “shot clock” idea continuing to get kicked around with varying degrees of seriousness.

As I was watching the Alt-Mestre hand, I realized that I actually like the way the pace of poker will alternate between fast and slow. Sure, I get impatient as the next guy when at the table. Even when reporting sometimes I dread those hands with super-long tanks that end with anticlimactic folds and therefore (occasionally) a page full of scribbles that aren’t necessarily even worth reporting.

I’ve mentioned before here how I’m no fan of the shot clock idea in poker, and I think one other reason why I don’t like it would be the way it would eliminate this variety in the pacing of the game, which adds a kind of unpredictability to it that makes it more enjoyable to follow.

All things considered, then, I don’t mind the tanks. I also like Stapes’s jokes during the long wait for a player to act.

(So who couldn’t read that post title without thinking about Caddyshack?)

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